Tennessee Titans 2013 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack?
As the Tennessee Titans and the other 31 NFL teams approach the start of the 2013 NFL draft on Thursday, April 25th, many fans and observers are speculating about which prospects will go where, which teams will strike gold and which teams will leave New York City disappointed.
At the end of it all, every team will have laid out a part of its future foundation—whether they are in rebuilding mode or contending for a Super Bowl.
In the next nine slides, I project all nine selections for the Tennessee Titans. They have nine picks in this years draft, with their biggest needs at guard, cornerback, defensive end and, in some people's minds, safety.
I realize that you may not agree with many of the selections made, but just keep in mind this is a mock draft, not reality. Many of the picks probably won't happen for one reason or another, and I'm perfectly fine with getting some of these wrong.
After all, isn't that the beauty of making a MOCK draft?
Round 1, No. 10: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
With Steve Hutchinson retiring, and Leroy Harris just being terrible, guard is by far the Titans' biggest need.
Even having already signed guard Andy Levitre and guard/center Rob Turner through free agency, the Titans still are needing one more piece to the offensive line puzzle.
Some people have frowned upon the prospect of picking a guard in the top 10. After all, no guard has been selected in the top 10 in the NFL Draft since 1997 when the New Orleans Saints drafted Chris Naeole. But after another lackluster season rushing the ball, guard is clearly the Titans' biggest need.
So here's the million dollar question: should the Titans play it safe and pick the two-time national champion Chance Warmack from Alabama, or the more versatile Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina?
This might not be a popular decision, but should both men be available, I believe that Cooper would be the better pick.
Cooper had a great season with North Carolina, opening up holes on many of Giovanni Bernard's big runs and also doing a great job in pass protection. He followed up his stellar season with a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 5.07 in the 40-yard dash and recording 35 bench press reps.
While Warmack has more renown thanks to having played for two national championship teams, Cooper is considered to be much quicker and more athletic.
Round 2, No. 8: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Don't get me wrong. Derrick Morgan (6.5 sacks) and Kamerion Wimbley (6.0 sacks) both had pretty decent years last year, especially considering how bad the Titans defense (last in points allowed per game) was as a whole.
Still, the Titans are missing that one physical force on the defensive line who will take them to the next level.
Enter Bjoern Werner.
The physical monster from Germany was once considered to be a top-5 prospect, but his stock fell drastically after a poor showing at the NFL combine. Still, the Titans shouldn't let Werner's combine numbers distract them from his production on the field (42 tackles, 13 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss).
After the injury to teammate and fellow draft prospect Brandon Jenkins, Werner attracted a lot more attention from opposing offenses. Werner still proved to be too much as he overpowered the majority of his opponents, especially Murray State (four sacks) and Florida, (six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and 3.5 sacks).
My only real concern with Werner is injuries. He's gotten a few injuries over his time at Florida State, but I don't think that's a big enough concern to pass on him.
If Werner were to fall to the Titans in the second round, this would be an obvious pick.
He will definitely be in the hunt for some playing time on the defensive line.
Round 3, No. 8: Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
Tennessee cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner weren't actually bad in 2012 considering the ineptitude at the safety position and how much both were thrown at all season.
Still, the Titans have no reliable depth at the cornerback position, especially the No. 3 CB spot. The jury is still out on the often-penalized Coty Sensabaugh, and Tommie Campbell is considered to be much more of a special teams contributor than anything else, although he has his moments on defense.
Darius Slay was one half of a talented Mississippi State cornerback duo that included 2013 first-round prospect Jonathan Banks. Even while being targeted more than Banks, Slay had a very solid 2012 campaign, proving to be very dependable in man coverage.
Slay is second-round talent but could fall to the third round with how deep this class of cornerbacks is. He could end up being a steal for the Titans.
Round 3, No. 35 (COMP): Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M
The Titans' wide receiver situation is very frustrating. They have so much raw talent—yet have so many flaws.
Kenny Britt has one year left on his contract; Nate Washington could be released before the season starts, and Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and Marc Mariani all could be on the bubble.
Thus, the Titans need to find a receiver to pair with Kendall Wright.
Ryan Swope is well known as being the main target of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. He is considered to be the second coming of Wes Welker as a standout slot receiver. He thrives off of getting open during broken plays, and, being a former running back, excels on screen plays.
One flaw in his game is also very similar to Welker: dropped passes. He has had a few inexplicable drops in the past. He also struggles in breaking free of defenders.
Overall, Swope would be a great selection for the Titans, especially if getting rid of Washington is a priority.
Round 4, No. 10: Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri
Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers look to be the Titans future at outside linebacker. However, behind them, Moise Fokou is really the only backup they have.
Gooden didn't have an especially great senior season with Missouri, but he backed it up with a solid Senior Bowl and a solid combine as well. He's very similar to Brown in many ways, including his speed. He's a good tackler, but sometimes plays out of control.
This selection is more about building depth than anything else, although Gooden could develop into a productive special teamer as well as a good backup.
Round 5, No. 9: Zac Stacy, HB, Vanderbilt
Chris Johnson is the No. 1 running back for the Titans. They signed Shonn Greene to be their short-yardage and goal-line back, something at which he's never been especially reliable. Jamie Harper certainly hasn't been reliable either, and Darius Reynaud is the kick returner.
So where exactly does Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy fit into the Titans plans?
The Titans did meet with Stacy this offseason, so there definitely could be interest. Stacy is a powerful runner who has great vision and is solid between the tackles. He doesn't really have a whole lot of speed, so don't expect him to be too much more than a power back.
Drafting a back at this spot could mean the end of Harper's time in Tennessee, and Stacy could push Greene for the No. 2 spot at running back.
Round 6, No. 34 (COMP): Rashard Hall, FS, Clemson
A lot of people feel that free safety is a big need for the Titans since recent free-agent signees George Wilson and Bernard Pollard are both strong safeties, and Michael Griffin has been horrible over the past two seasons.
I don't see it that way, but the Titans could still draft a safety just for depth.
Overall, Hall is a smart player. He does a good job of recognizing offenses, and has shown flashes of leadership skills. However, he also plays out of control a lot of the time, and his overpursuit causes him to lose his balance and miss tackles.
Still, Hall's only noticeably bad game was against Florida State. Otherwise, he had a pretty solid senior season and could contribute early on as a special teamer for Tennessee.
Round 7, No. 10: Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt
The younger brother of Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jordan is a very athletic quarterback in his own right. Like big brother, he is tough and doesn't shy away from defenders, and he can scramble out of the pocket if he needs to.
His main problem is the fact that his arm-strength is average at best. He's also too dependent on wide-open passing lanes, which certainly won't be a realistic expectation when you play in a division with the likes of J.J. Watt.
Rodgers won't realistically threaten either Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, but he certainly is capable of giving Rusty Smith a run for his money when it comes to the ever-important No. 3 spot.
Round 7, No. 42 (COMP): Anthony "Amp" McCloud, DT, Florida State
McCloud is the forgotten man from the powerful Florida State defensive line of 2012.
While much of the hype surround guys like Werner, Tank Carradine, Everett Dawkins and Brandon Jenkins, McCloud hasn't gotten too much love.
And for good reason.
He doesn't get off the line with much conviction at all, and doesn't really get offensive line off of him either for the most part. However, his ability to play both the nose and 3-technique, as well as his screen recognition and backfield vision, have garnered him some interest from NFL scouts.
He'll be a long shot to make any roster, especially Tennessee's, given the depth that the Titans have on the interior of the defensive line—Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Mike Martin and former Detroit Lion, Sammie Lee Hill.
Still, if he's available here, McCloud could be worth a shot.